EMILY YATES-DOERR, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in November 2007 to aid research on 'The Weight of the Body: Changing Ideals of Nutrition, Health and Fat in Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Emily Martin. Historically, Guatemalans have considered body fat a sign of health and prestige. In the past decade, connected to an increased availability of commodified foods, the incidence of weight-related illness has grown rapidly and obesity has become an emerging medical concern. Local and international health organizations are responding by introducing nutritional education programs encouraging dietary control and weight management. This study, situated around intersections of these programs and the lives of the people to whom they are directed, analyzes how diverse ideas about dietary health affect the reception of nutritional health information. It draws from 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in nutrition clinics and home environments in the highland region of Quetzaltenango to explore how weight-management discourses influence culinary and corporal desires and the embodied subjectivities these desires produce. Participant observation, structured interviews, and discourse analysis enabled investigation of: techniques of weight management and perspectives of fatness; how nutritional health guidelines are integrated into dietary practice; and the connections and contradictions between commodified food networks and nutritional awareness. This situated research into responses to nutrition education and the globalization of food markets helps shed light on the sociopolitical dimensions shaping dietary behavior in contemporary Latin America.
Yates-Doerr, Emily. 2012. The Opacity of Reduction: Nutritional Black-Boxing and the Meanings of Nourishment. Food, Culture & Society 15(2):293-313.
Yates-Doerr, Emily. 2012. The Weight of the Self: Care and Compassion in Guatemalan Dietary Choice. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26(1):136-